By Grady Smith
Updated September 03, 2011 at 02:00 PM EDT

PopWatch readers, see if you can guess what I’m thinking.

____ ____ ____ ____ ____.

Hopefully you guessed, “I loved Figure It Out.” Or else you’re getting slimed!

This goofy game show ran on Nickelodeon from 1997-1999, and during my childhood, I was a big fan. Hosted by Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders (who, in a very inside-Nickelodeon move, was lampooned on All That as a character named Winter Wonders), Figure It Out featured a panel of four TV stars who would try to guess an unknown phrase describing some extraordinary contestant. Over the course of three rounds, the stars would ask the contestant questions about his/her special talent. Each time that one of the stars said a word contained in the hidden phrase, the word would be revealed.

The stars (and mind you, when I say stars, I mean Nickelodeon personalities like Amanda Bynes and Pete and Pete‘s Danny Tamberelli, and other random pop culture figures like WWE performer Chris Jericho) would receive clues in between rounds about unanswered words, but if the phrase remained unsolved after three rounds, the contestant would receive a prize vacation and the panel would get slimed. Then the contestant would show off his/her talent — which were sometimes cool (“I have a pet squirrel that can water ski!”) and sometimes completely unimpressive (“I can bite cheese into the shape of any state!”).

More often than not, though, the panel seemed to figure out the hidden phrase with relative ease — even if it didn’t make any sense for them to stumble onto certain words. Lori Beth Denberg was the main culprit of this. In her final guess, Denberg, who was sort of the main panelist of Figure It Out, would routinely throw out a completely random word that had little to do with any of the questions asked, and whadayaknow? It would be correct!

That seemed fishy to me, even as a kid, and I always wondered whether the panel (or at least Denberg) knew the hidden phrase all along. I mean, Nickelodeon probably needed a way to limit the number of vacations it gave away. It’s kind of the same way that I’ll never really be able to know whether the celebrities on Hollywood Squares are told the answers to their questions. Are they actually that smart?!

What do you think?